BASICS OF FERTILITY
Infertility is defined as:
Failure to achieve a successful pregnancy:
- Under 35 years of age: after 12 months of trying to conceive
- Over 35 years of age: after 6 months of trying to conceive
About one in 8 couples will seek assistance to grow their families.
Naturopathic doctors are uniquely suited to address the complex nature of infertility by focusing on both the physical and emotional factors.
Our principles and toolbox allows us to comprehensively evaluate, diagnose and address maladaptive physiology obstructing normal fertility.
Proper preconception care can enhance fertility, minimize birth-related risks and benefit mom and baby long term.
There are many contributing factors to infertility. Each of these factors are important for couples planning on natural birth or those planning assisted reproductive technology (ART):
- Micro-nutrient Support
- Underlying health conditions: heart health, thyroid, obesity, endocrine disorders
Female Factor Infertility
- Accounts for 50% of cases
- Poor Egg Quality
- Pelvic or Structural Factors (35%)
- Ovulatory or Hormonal Factors (15%)
- Inflammation and oxidation, especially those associated with PCOS and endometriosis are modifiable factors
Male Factor Infertility
- Accounts for 35% of cases
- Sperm health: production, quality and motility
Combination and Unknown Infertility Account for remaining causes of infertility.
WHAT IS ART?
ART includes various medical procedures to address infertility. They include IUI, IFV and ICSI, all of which have different techniques, indications and outcomes. Naturopaths don’t administer ART at the clinic, but we offer many evidenced based adjunctive treatments.
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI): This is also known as artificial insemination. It involves placing sperm that has been washed and concentrated directly into the uterus, at the time of ovulation. The hope is the sperm will swim to the waiting egg. IUI can be coordinated with your normal cycle or with fertility medications.
In vitro Fertilization (IVF): is a series of procedures, mature eggs are collected from the ovaries, and fertilized by sperm in a lab. Then, the fertilized egg (embryo) is transferred to the uterus. One cycle of IFV takes a few weeks and may involve various medications taken strategically to help stimulate egg development.
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI): involves injecting a single sperm into an egg. There are many similarities between ICSI and IVF. In fact, the steps taken prior and after insemination are the same. In terms of insemination, ICSI needs only one sperm, whereas IVF requires thousands. This is done to combat male-factor infertility, or when the eggs cannot be penetrated easily.
WHO SHOULD I SEE AT ABSOLUTE HEALTH AND WELLNESS?
We recommend seeing a naturopath to start - they will guide you through various adjunctive therapies.
HOW WE COMMONLY TREAT FERTILITY
- Supplements (Herbs, Vitamins, Minerals): certain vitamins and minerals are helpful in natural pregnancy and in supporting families through ART (IVF, IUI etc)
- Lifestyle and Behavior Modification: the little things we do every day, like diet, stress management, sleep and more play roles in fertility
- Acupuncture: naturopaths in Ontario are licensed to administer acupuncture, which has been shown in research to be highly effective in various aspects of pregnancy, fertility and ART
- Nutrition and Diet: the food we eat plays a role in our health, including our pregnancy and fertility
- Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy: pelvic floor physiotherapists play a role during pregnancy and during the post-natal period.
Every person is different, and everyone's fertility journey will vary.